Bulletin of Volcanology

, 77:24 | Cite as

Volcanic, tectonic and mass-wasting processes offshore Terceira Island (Azores) revealed by high-resolution seafloor mapping

  • D. Casalbore
  • C. Romagnoli
  • A. Pimentel
  • R. Quartau
  • D. Casas
  • G. Ercilla
  • A. Hipólito
  • A. Sposato
  • F. L. Chiocci
Research Article


Terceira Island, in the Azores Archipelago, lies at the intersection of four submarine volcanic ridges. New high-resolution bathymetric and seismic reflection data have been used to analyze the main volcanic, tectonic and mass-wasting features of the island offshore. Volcanic features such as linear volcanic centers, and pointy and flat-topped cones are mainly concentrated on the narrow western and north-western ridges, characterized by an overall rugged morphology. Fault scarps dominate mainly the broad eastern and south-eastern ridges, which are characterized by an overall smooth and terrace-like morphology. On the eastern ridge, faults form a series of horsts and grabens related to the onshore Lajes Graben. The strikes of the fault scarps, linear volcanic centers and alignment of volcanic cones on the ridges reveal two main structural trends, WNW–ESE and NNW–SSE, consistent with the main tectonic structures observed on the Azores Plateau. In contrast, a large variability of strike was observed in inter-ridge areas, reflecting the relative importance of regional and local stresses in producing these structures. Mass-wasting features are subordinate and mostly represented by hundred meter-wide scars that indent the edge of the insular shelf surrounding the island, apart from two large, deeper scars identified on the southern steep flank of the western ridge. Finally, the remarkable morpho-structural differences between the western and eastern ridges are discussed in the framework of the evolution of the Terceira volcanic edifice and hypothesized to reflect successive stages of ridge evolution.


Multibeam bathymetry Morphometry Submarine volcanism Volcanic ridges Tectonic control Terceira Rift 



Data acquisition was conducted within the framework of the project “Features of Azores and Italian Volcanic Islands (FAIVI)”, supported by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme under EUROFLEETS grant agreement no. 228344. The crews of the launch Haliotis and the R/V L’Atalante are gratefully acknowledged for their assistance in data acquisition. We gratefully acknowledge J. White, A. Gudmundsson, N.C. Mitchell, D. Smith and an anonymous reviewer for their comments that improved the quality of the paper.

Supplementary material

445_2015_905_MOESM1_ESM.tif (8.9 mb)
Fig. 1 ESM Method used to calculate the average diameter and maximum height for volcanic cones offshore Terceira. Average diameter of the base of the cone is calculated as square root of ×4 plan-view area (outlined by dashed line on the shaded relief map)/π. The height is calculated as the elevation between the peak and the reconstructed basal plane of the cone, as shown in profiles A-B and C-D (TIFF 9086 kb)
445_2015_905_Fig13_ESM.gif (202 kb)

High resolution image (GIF 202 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Casalbore
    • 1
  • C. Romagnoli
    • 2
  • A. Pimentel
    • 3
    • 4
  • R. Quartau
    • 5
    • 6
  • D. Casas
    • 7
  • G. Ercilla
    • 8
  • A. Hipólito
    • 4
  • A. Sposato
    • 1
  • F. L. Chiocci
    • 1
    • 9
  1. 1.Istituto di Geologia Ambientale e Geoingegneria (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche)Area della Ricerca di Roma 1, MontelibrettiRomaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche ed AmbientaliUniversità di BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Centro de Informação e Vigilância Sismovulcânica dos AçoresPonta DelgadaPortugal
  4. 4.Centro de Vulcanologia e Avaliação de Riscos GeológicosUniversity of the AzoresPonta DelgadaPortugal
  5. 5.Divisão de Geologia Marinha e GeorecursosInstituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera I.P.LisboaPortugal
  6. 6.Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal
  7. 7.Geological Survey of SpainMadridSpain
  8. 8.Departamento de Geología Marina Instituto de Ciencias del Mar CMIMA-CSICBarcelonaSpain
  9. 9.Dipartimento Scienze della TerraSapienza Università di RomaRomaItaly

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